Park Visitations in the time of COVID

The COVID pandemic altered our relationship with outdoor space. From the earlier onsets of the national shutdown people were limited in where they could travel and often the only chance to meet up with loved ones were in public, outdoor areas. The parks of Madison offered such meeting places. Understanding whence people are visiting these parks can offer insights into where parks should be developed and what park resources can best support those visitors. 

The Environmental Design Lab is investigating where people travel from to visit Madison’s neighborhood parks. Using data collected by SafeGraph, we can examine the census tract from where people visited and how far they traveled to visit the park. Knowing where people are visiting from can also tell us more about who is visiting. Using demographic information associated with each of the census tracts, we can see if parks are being utilized by everyone or by specific groups. Knowing about who are and who are not using certain parks is important information that the Park Department can use in planning where parks are developed and what resources should be available at those parks. Lastly, we will be able to compare how the pandemic changed who was visiting Madison’s parks. 

In order to analyze the SafeGraph data, we are using ArcGIS Pro to visualize both the location of the parks and the census tracts of visitors. As we continue our project, we will be adding to our EDL News with new blog posts.